Controversial Queens Councilwoman has been granted a waiver on “religious” grounds to attend City Council meetings in person despite refusing to disclose whether she’s vaccinated against COVID-19, her son said Thursday, January 20, 2022.
Thomas Paladino, who serves as a spokesman for his Republican mother’s campaign, said the waiver necessitates that she presents a negative COVID-19 test within seven days of attending any Council meeting or hearing.
“Basically, she’ll get tested once a week,” he told the Daily News.
He declined to say why his mother’s religious beliefs preclude her from divulging her vaccination status.
Earlier, Council Speaker Adrienne Adams confirmed Vickie Paladino had been given a waiver to attend Thursday’s Council meeting, though she did not explain the terms or nature of it.
“Councilmember Paladino does have a waiver and she has been tested, so she is allowed on the grounds,” Adams (D-Queens) told reporters at City Hall.
Adams added that she hopes Paladino is vaccinated.
“Hopefully, everyone here is vaccinated and boosted,” the speaker said.
Paladino, who narrowly defeated Democrat Tony Avella in November’s election to represent Queens’ 19th Council district, was seen wearing a black mask while in the Council chamber for Thursday’s meeting, hosted to elect new committee chairs.
She could not be reached for comment but was spotted walking into the office of Councilman Joe Borelli (R-Staten Island) after the meeting.
Borelli, the Council’s GOP minority leader, defended Paladino’s right to remain mum about her vaccination status.
“It’s no one’s damn business,” Borelli said.
Before Thursday’s session, Paladino posted a photo on Twitter of herself maskless in the Council chamber.
“Thank you to Speaker Adams for all your help, and I look forward to a productive and successful term!” she captioned the picture.
Council members are required to be immunized against COVID-19 under the vaccine mandate covering the municipal workforce.
However, the municipal mandate allows exemptions for some documented religious and medical reasons.
Paladino was barred from attending the Council’s first meeting of the year on Jan. 5 due to her refusal to say whether she’s vaccinated.
In an interview with NY1 last week, Paladino claimed she would never reveal her vaccination status to the city because that would supposedly violate her rights.
“I don’t need to show you my papers,” she said in the interview. “This is not Nazi Germany.”
The comparison drew international rebuke, prompting Paladino to apologize.
“While my intent was to illustrate that requiring residents to show medical papers to earn a living or do everyday activities is an authoritarian practice that does not align with this country’s principles, it is never OK to compare anything to the evil of Nazi Germany,” Paladino said in a Jan. 11 statement.